The V40 is Volvo’s answering to the burgeoning luxury hatch market, and it is designed to compete with the likes of Volkswagen’s popular Golf, Audi’s A3, Lexus’ CT range and to a lesser extent, the BMW 1-Series and Mercedes-Benz A-Class.
Four trim levels are offered: the base Kinetic, Luxury (as tested) the sporty R-Design and the stylishly rugged Cross Country versions. A number of petrol and diesel engines and different transmissions are available, and these are dependent on the trim level chosen.
What we like:
- Gorgeous styling inside and out
- Quality Volvo build
- Fabulously comfortable seats
- Brisk performance from the diesel engine
Not so much:
- Diesel can be a little noisy
- No air conditioning vents in the rear
- Accommodation is best suited to four, rather than five passengers
- Ride can be a touch firm at times
Price and Equipment
The V40 range opens with the Kinetic D2 with a 1.6 litre diesel engine mated to a six-speed manual from $36,990 and tops out with the V40 Cross Country T5 Luxury all-wheel drive that starts from $52,990. The Luxury version is designed for customers who are after Volvo plushness in a smaller serving and R-Design versions are for those wanting Volvo’s interpretation of a hot hatch.
The D4 Luxury tested offered a generous amount of standard equipment. The equipment list included: LED daytime running lights, bi-xenon steering headlights with headlight wash system, heated and folding wing mirrors, leather trim, an excellent reversing camera with zoom function, rear parking sensors, satellite navigation and a powerful sound system.
A Volvo being a Volvo, an artillery of safety equipment is a part of the package and all V40 models have been awarded a five-star ANCAP safety rating.
- Heated front seats, $375
- Metallic paint, $1,750
Simplicity, elegance and quality are three words that could be used to describe the V40’s cabin. Many parts such as the tri-mode digital instrument cluster or “adaptive digital display,” floating centre console and switchgear are shared with other Volvo models such as the S60, V60 and XC60.
The adaptive digital display allows the driver to choose from three different modes: Eco, Sport and Elegance. Eco mode encourages the driver to drive as economically as possible, Sport generates a large, digital speedometer with a red backing and Elegance is perhaps the most traditional of the three, and certainly the best suited to this car.
All controls are neatly arranged in the centre stack, and resemble the controls of a smartphone, immediately invoking a sense of familiarity. While everything is arranged in a neat, Scandinavian fashion, the 7 inch colour screen isn’t touch compatible, requiring occupants to manipulate click wheels to select one of the Sensus Connect infotainment system’s functions. This can especially become a little fiddly when entering an address on the satellite navigation system.
Sensus allows passengers to choose from AM/FM radio, their favourite CD or DVD, Bluetooth streaming with full iPod connectivity and internet connectivity (via a smartphone).
There are also audio and voice controls on the steering wheel. Said voice control allows input into that satellite navigation system while the vehicle is on the move; we found the system to be reasonably receptive of our commands, although at times it require a spot of patience.
The nav itself is great, though. The system allows the driver to zoom in on maps, warns of fixed speed cameras and provides instructions in the instrumentation cluster.
Unfortunately, like many other of its Volvo brethren, the V40’s phone controls are mounted on the centre stack rather than the steering wheel. An issue we feel that Volvo needs to address.
The cabin is swathed in a number of different shades of grey and different surfaces. These dark ambience is lifted by bright silver inserts on the doors and classy white lighting in the foot wells.
Seating is wonderful. The chairs are soft and supportive and the leather with pronounced stitching is of a satisfyingly high calibre. There’s full electric adjustment up front too, and head, leg and shoulder room are adequate for a car of this size.
However, although the rear bench has three seatbelts, sculpted outer seats mean that the V40 is really a four seater.
The rear cargo area is rated at 324 litres, and the boot space has a two tiered arrangement and a built in folding divider.
Engine and Transmission
The 2.0 litre turbo diesel engine develops 140kW @ 4250rpm and 400Nm @ 1750-2500rpm. Performance is strong, power delivery and gear changes from that eight-speed auto are smooth. The V40 D4 is pleasingly brisk and Volvo claims the luxury hatch can complete the 0-100 kilometre dash in 7.2 seconds. We believe them.
The driveline also employs Volvo’s start/stop technology. Grind to a halt in traffic and the engine shuts down. Lift your foot off the brake and the engine rumbles back into life. The system generally works well, however we did notice that when rolling down hill in traffic, the engine didn’t restart as quickly as we would have liked.
Further, although quick and refined, the engine does let all know that it is an oil burner and diesel clatter can be well and truly heard throughout.
During the test week, we achieved an average fuel economy figure of 6.8 litres per 100 kilometres.
On The Road
On the road the V40 conveys a sense of predictability and surety. Handling is pleasant and predictable and the driver is able to obtain substantial information through the chunky steering wheel. Similarly, the feel through the brake pedal is gradual and linear.
Although handling is more than satisfactory, the ride was a little too firm for our liking and we felt it could do with a touch more shock absorption. Still, it was never jarring or uncomfortable.
At night, the bright, swivelling bi-xenon headlamps illuminate the darkest of streetscapes adding to the car’s feeling of surety.
The V40 was one of the first Volvo’s to be equipped with the Swedish firm’s City Safety system, which can automatically bring the vehicle to a stop from 50km/h or less, should it sense an impending nose to tail shunt. In the unfortunate event that the car collides with a pedestrian, there is a pedestrian airbag to minimise their injuries.
Additional standard safety equipment includes: dynamic stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic brake distribution (EBD), emergency brake assist (EBA) along with Volvo’s whiplash protection system/
The reversing camera displays images on the 7 inch screen are of great clarity and there are reversing guidelines to help manoeuvring into those parking spaces a little easier.
There are also two-stage driver and front passenger airbags, two full-length Inflatable curtain airbags, side airbags and driver’s knee airbag.
The V40 is covered by Volvo’s three year/100,000 kilometre warranty.
Volvo V40 Luxury D4 Drive-E Specs
Make and model: Volvo V40 Luxury D4 Drive-E
Engine type: 1969cc, transverse mounted four-cylinder 16 valve DOHC turbocharged diesel engine with auto stop/start engine technology.
Power: 140kW @ 4250rpm
Torque: 400Nm @ 1750-2500rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Fuel consumption: 4.5 litres per 100 kilometres
Dimensions: 4369mm long, 1783mm wide, 1420mm high and 2647mm wheelbase
Suspension: Front: MacPherson strut with anti-roll bars
Rear: multilink independent suspension with anti-roll bars
Steering: Electric rack and pinion steering
Country of Origin: Belgium